Helping undocumented students goal of statewide summit

HB 1079 Summit LogoPULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University is joining other universities across the state in organizing a summit where educators, government officials, and community members will learn and share best practices for serving undocumented students.

The HB1079 Summit: A Decade of Dreaming will take place Friday, June 20, in the University of Washington’s Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

It is the culminating event of a three-year grant WSU received from College Spark Washington, an organization that helps low-income students prepare for, enroll and graduate from college.

“We’re making history in our state by trying to address issues one at a time that impact the educational success of undocumented students,” said Marcela Pattinson, Summit organizer and coordinator of WSU’s educational outreach and undocumented initiatives in the Office for Access, Equity and Achievement. “Wow! What a journey it has been.”

Legislation creates urgency

In response to House Bill 1079, passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2003 allowing certain undocumented students to pay resident tuition at state colleges and universities, the grant charged WSU with creating a Washington State Educational Access Coalition for HB1079 Students.

Coalition members College Spark Washington, WSU, the University of Washington, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University, Seattle Community Colleges, and the Latina/o Educational Achievement Project, teamed up to organize the Summit.

The Coalition spent three years auditing existing programs that support undocumented students, interviewing undocumented students, identifying gaps, and creating a list of best practices.

Now it is ready to share its findings with a larger audience. Pattinson said the response to the Summit has been overwhelming as registration quickly reached capacity of over 175 people.

“With the passage of the Real Hope Act this year and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, more and more undocumented students are preparing for and entering our colleges and universities,” she said. “We discovered in our research that most of us have not properly prepared for them and it’s important we create a support network at each of our institutions to help them be successful.”

Sharing ideas that work

The Summit will feature several speakers who are nationally known for their work with undocumented students.

They include:

  • Roberto Gonzales, a professor at Harvard University and author of Born in the Shadow: The Uncertain Futures of the Children of Unauthorized Mexican Migrants
  • Alejandra Rincón, and advocate for immigrant rights and author of Undocumented Immigrants and Higher Education: Si Se Puede!
  • Luis Narvaez, a researcher who will use a case study in the Chicago Public School system to highlight best practices in cultural competency.
  • Meng So, coordinator of the Undocumented Student Program at the University of California Berkeley campus, will talk about best practices in higher education based upon a case study of his program.

Many resources and materials highlighting best practices will be available at the Summit.

“Even though the grant is in the final stage, the work, the impact, and the friendships made throughout the process are unmeasurable,” Pattinson said. “I have met many colleagues who are truly passionate and committed to serving all students and whom I know will continue to impact their communities.”

For more information about the Coalition and the Summit, visit


Marcela Pattinson, WSU Outreach & Undocumented Initiatives, Office for Access, Equity and Achievement, 509-335-7326,

Steve Nakata, Director of Communications, Student Affairs & Enrollment, 509-335-1774,


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